Christmas Trees and Empty Nests: Moving Onto the Next Stage

Like many families, decorating the Christmas tree represents a certain ritual and meaning. This year, however, things felt different. This is our first Christmas as “empty-nesters”.

Christmas tree decorating in our house was always a team effort. Just like in A Charlie Brown Christmas, certain things have to be in place: Christmas tunes, hot apple cider, Austrian hot spiced wine, and several boxes of decorations accumulated over the years.

This year, the house was very quiet. That is, until my husband made a fatal error: He began decorating the tree without me.

“No, no! We have to decorate the tree together. We always decorated the tree together,” I shouted, “We have to have hot spiced wine and there’s no Christmas music! And where are all the ornament boxes?!”

It wasn’t exactly a “menopausal meltdown” but it was close.

Simon_kitty_ copyright_DoriStaehle“But the kids aren’t here so I thought I’d just start,” he explained, “Besides, we can’t put too many ornaments up or Simon will get them.” Simon, the kitty we rescued last January, is also known as “Klepto Kitty” because he steals anything that isn’t nailed down.


Learning to Let Go

Ok, so maybe I’m too attached to the Christmas tree decorating ritual but these aren’t just ornaments. They’re memories. They represent different phases of our lives and the different places we’ve lived.

There are western-themed ornaments from our years in Colorado. There are ones with photos in them, from when our kids were little. There are some that were given to me by my former students when I used to teach after-school programs. There are some we made during our many years of homeschooling.

For me, decorating the Christmas tree is a walk down memory lane. You don’t realize how quickly time passes when your kids are little. You’re too exhausted from trying to keep up! Before you know it, however, there you are wondering “Now what?”

Xmas_ ornaments_copyright_DoriStaehleThe Next Stage

I thought I was prepared for my next phase of life. I had two part-time businesses. Things changed, the economy changed, and so my direction needed to change.

I certainly wasn’t ready to retire so I decided it was time for a “second act career”. You’re never old to try something new. In fact, a huge number of small businesses are started by people who are “older-preneurs” (over 50). They also boast a much higher success rateMany companies don’t seem to value age and experience, so it’s a logical choice.

Many of us also want to give back.  We want to use our gifts and talents to help others and pay it forward. We want to make a difference. We also want to be paid what we’re worth.

What about you? What do you need to let go of? What do you want to do with your gifts and talents in this stage of your life?

Feel free to leave a comment below or download my free E-book.

Christmas is much more than ornaments or having the perfect tree. Remember the reason for the season and have a very Merry Christmas!

Dori_RockerChick_jacket2013Dori Staehle is the owner and Chief Encouragement Officer at Rock the Next Stage. She helps creative types who are 40+ get unstuck and convert their gifts and talents into a viable income. Drum therapy can also be combined with coaching, to help with clarity, stress relief, and healing.